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The future's bright... (with Melanie Arrow)

The future is bright, the future is…

The future is so radically indeterminate, so fast changing, so different, so obtuse, so totally beyond our grasp that it can’t be planned for. Today’s under 18s code, they programme, they hardwire and they delete the phone app – because who uses phones as phones anymore anyway? In fact, somewhere between 40% and 65% of jobs that children in primary school will do in the future haven’t been invented yet. Let’s give up now.

But then, that’s not quite right is it? The future isn’t something to be viewed passively, it is something to be invented. So, the real question for us strategists is not what the future is, but how can strategy master it?

As I see it, strategy has one core strength – one role to rule them all, as it were – and it’s something I believe transcends now and future, no matter how complex that future is, because it represents something fundamentally true about the role of brands in our society.

Strategists make sense of the new, they narrate, articulate and contextualise. They distil and reduce. They simplify the complex and help brands to establish themselves as simple digestible, meaningful constructs in people’s lives. We sit on the precipice between technology and humanity, tethering what is changing (tech) to what never does (emotions, desires, feelings).

The key to our inventing the future, then, is the thing that has always made us strong. Answering how does this new thing help people? How can it entertain them? Why should they want to use it or be part of it? Because without making this connection back to humanity – technology and new things are nothing.

So, to finish the sentence “the future is bright, the future is…” well, in truth, I have no idea, but I would bet on strategy to be able to simplify it.

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